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Farewell to New Zealand’s finned celebrity Moko

July 13, 2010

It was a sad moment last week for many New Zealanders when news broke that a beloved finned friend had passed away. As yet it is an unofficial announcement, but the experts are fairly certain that the body washed up onshore was that of Moko.

So who was Moko? He was a local celebrity, living around the warm waters off the North Island’s East Coast in a place unknown to millions called Mahia Bay

Moko was a popular icon because of his friendly and at times annoying game playing but most importantly, his trust in humans. Moko was a bottle nosed dolphin who frequented the waters around Mahia Bay, played with swimmers and thrilled beach goers for a brief but fulfilling time. His playful antics did at times go overboard, like a child in need of attention, Moko kept one swimmer in the water for hours, only to leave her stranded in need of rescue,

Playfulness aside, Moko’s most spectacular stint was his ability to guide two stranded pygmy sperm whales from a shallow sandbar back into deep water. This dolphin rocked in every way possible.


Moko wasn’t the only celebrity to grace its finned presence in the warmer waters off New Zealand’s North Island. Opo found fame during the summers of 1955/56.  She too was a bottlenose dolphin that like to play and enjoy human contact, which in the end accidentally killed her.

Via TEARA.govt

New Zealand’s affiliation with Dolphins

The ocean waters around New Zealand are rich in marine and sea life: seals love to bask on the rocky outcrops away from prying eyes, sperm and pilot whales feed off its southern waters, the occasional pod of orcas drop in for a layover and colossal squid grow to mind-boggling proportions in the deep Pacific.

These coastal waters are also home to a group of small dolphins, native to New Zealand called Hector dolphins, and to a subspecies called Maui dolphins which are reported as being the rarest (110 last count) and the smallest dolphins in the world.

via TEARA.govt

via WWF

My affiliation with these wonderful creatures has always been from a distance. While I don’t believe in swimming with dolphins unless the mammal initiates the act I have enjoyed watching them dance alongside the bow of the ferry as it sails through the Marlborough Sounds and I’ve taken great delight from seeing a mother and her two children play in the shallow waters one early summer morning in Jackson Bay’s (Haast) isolated shoreline.

Moko has gone, his memory will remain in the form of a statue of monument, and with any luck in the future, another Moko will take his place.

Caffeinated Traveller

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  1. July 16, 2010 12:28 am

    How sad. I’ve swum with dolphins before and they are very warm and friendly. I never knew New Zealand had so many.

    • July 16, 2010 2:22 pm

      Neither did I until I researched and compiled my information. I knew there were dolphins but not as much as I had thought.

  2. Lulu permalink
    July 16, 2010 11:43 am

    I love dolphins- their faces always bring so much joy! There is a beach on Bali called Lovina beach where you can see dolphins in the sea; they appear when you least expect it. Ihaven’t met them yet, but I want to see them myself.
    Moko, dolphins are the friendliest animal Ithink

    • July 16, 2010 2:24 pm

      I think you should go to Lovina beach and get in touch with the dolphins, could be a spirtual thing for you. Let me know when you get there.

  3. July 17, 2010 3:03 am

    that is so sad. Spotting a dolphin when at sea is beautiful…

    on a cruise from indian mainland to lakshadweep, late in the night we used to see them jumping about – beautiful!!!

    The tip on Lovina is helpful – i hadnt come across that when i read about bali…

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